Daytona 500: Kahne - Media Day visit

KASEY KAHNE, No.4 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team

How fulfilling is the work you do with your foundation? "It's been some really good stuff over the last six or seven years that we've been able to be a part of. We started our own foundation the Kasey Kahne Foundation for under privileged children and their families. We've had some fun with events. Going to sporting events and taking the kids, raising money at races or concerts and different things. The fans have always been really involved and it's really neat. It's the only way that you can raise money. It's great the following that fans have on this sport and then with the foundations and with the ways to raise money to help put a smile on kids faces."

What will it be like to race under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway? "It's great racing under the lights and definitely at Texas it's an awesome place. We finished some races under the lights there before. It's always pretty neat, but to race a whole race there under the lights I think will be exciting. The cars will look great -- it's a fast track. There's definitely some spots at that track where you can easily get off a little bit and screw your corner up. I look forward to it. I think Texas is one of the spots, especially the April race, that I look forward to every time we go there. It's one of the races, it's a big race and a tough race to win."

How is your knee following the surgery and what type of exercises are you doing? "My knees are really good. I'm really happy I did it and took care of it. That first month was kind of a pain. I couldn't move quick and I couldn't really get around that well. I was not happy about it, but it was the offseason. I started biking as quickly as I could and now I'm up to running and I'm already running four or five miles a day. So they feel great and I'm really happy with where they are at compared to where they were before."

How do you feel about your upcoming season with Red Bull Racing Team? "I can tell you that it's not going to be any tougher than my last four years with as much adversity and ups and downs and unknowns -- as much of a mess as that was over the last four years. I don't see how going to Red Bull -- a very stable, strong team with a lot of great people and then going to Hendrick Motorsports the following year, how that can be a bad thing at all. I feel like things are so easy and so simple now compared to where they've been. I can't wait for the opportunity. I love Red Bull and what we've done so far to prepare for the season. I look forward to this whole year and I think we can run really well."

Do you feel adversity in your past helps you this season? "I think it will help, but I think another thing that will help is everybody going into this year knows exactly what this year is about and what we're shooting for. It's not a long term deal, it's kind of a short term deal and everybody's aware of that. Everybody's still really excited and have prepared really well over the offseason. We've done some testing a little bit. Things are good. We're really prepared for what we have and everybody's excited and has a great attitude about what's going to happen this season. That's the biggest thing attitude in this sport. We have it at Red Bull."

How are Ryan Pemberton and Kenny Francis working together? "Going into something like that, you're a little unaware of how things will go and how everybody will get along. So far we've tested five days or six days total. As far as the two teams working together, it's really good. Ryan (Pemberton, 83 crew chief) really likes Kenny (Francis, 4 crew chief) and Kenny likes Ryan. I've talked to both of them separately at different times just about racing and things. To me, it's a really good connection already. The teams and stuff I was just really surprised at the way things have happened so far. Surprising in a good way."

Did it help you to get a head start with Red Bull at the end of last season? "Whether it was a blessing or a good thing or a bad thing or whatever happened there -- I think at the end of the day it helped me and it helped Red Bull and it helped RPM (Richard Petty Motorsports). It helped all parties and I got off to a little bit of a head start for this year. That's where it helped me. RPM needed me out of there, they were working on other things, which was good for them. It was great for Red Bull because I was able to get in there early and we were able to start working together. I just think it was good for all three parties. That's why it happened and I'm glad it happened."

How well do you and Brian Vickers get along? "We've always got along good. We've never really done a whole lot together as far as racing, but we've got along good. Brian's (Vickers) a really good driver, so I feel like we can work together well. I think we can learn a lot from each other and work together as teammates to help each other and to help our company."

Do you feel like you have something to prove this season? "I just feel like I have to prove that I can be consistent. I feel like I know I can win races, I know we can run up front, we can qualify well. I know we can race well at just about every track. There's a couple still that I've got to figure out as a driver and communicating with my team to get the car where it needs to be. Really, the biggest thing is that I just need to be consistent, and consistent for a full season. We've been consistent for a half a year, 70 percent of a year or 40 percent of a year, but we've never done it for a full season. If I can do that as a driver that will be a good year for me."

Do you feel that you have ever been in a situation where you've been consistent for a full year? "No, that's something that I need to work on. Just straight up, all by myself, I need to work on that and make that better."

Why did you choose to run the number 4 on your Sprint Cup car this year? "That's my sprint car number. That's what I run when I race a sprint car. Troy Lee, who does all our helmets and our numbers for us, so we have the 9 and the 4 and the 49 and the 91 and they all kind of go together and look similar so I've just been the 4. So when we started talking to Red Bull, I asked if I could bring my number because it's what I run and it has kind of a neat -- it looks different than a normal 4 and has its own artistic look. I thought it was pretty cool and they were fine with it. They've been good about it ever since and they think it looks good."

What is it like to drive a Toyota in NASCAR? "I think the biggest thing is working with TRD (Toyota Racing Development) with the engines and just being really comfortable with that package. They seem interested and want to work with us and also with the Michael Waltrip team. I think that's the biggest thing. The car is going to be what we do, what Red Bull does, and they've worked really hard to build a top of the line car for this season."

Were you and Brian Vickers able to work on drafting together during the Daytona testing? "We just worked a lot on how to work together well and how to do things quickly out there. I thought that was good. We were able to talk a lot about it and get better. I thought we were really good at it -- we know where we're a little bit off and where we need to make some gains coming into the (Daytona) 500, which is good. I felt like myself and (Dale Earnhardt) Junior were pretty good together and myself and (Joey) Logano. I would imagine if I was with Denny (Hamlin) or something, we would have been alright, too. We all kind of worked pretty well together and the cars were quick together. That was at a test. When we get here in the race that will all change."

Can you win the Daytona 500? "The thing about the (Daytona) 500 is that there are probably 30 cars or 25 cars that can win the 500. There's a few guys that are really good at putting themselves in position each year, and Kevin Harvick is definitely one of them. I don't know how he does it, but every year at the right time, Kevin Harvick is there when we're at Daytona and even Talladega. Definitely Daytona -- it doesn't matter which race it is. Maybe I'll just try to stay with Kevin all day, just because he does it right. There's certain guys that always put themselves there probably a handful. So much happens late in the race that I bet if you're there late in the race, there's probably 25 guys that have a chance. That's just the way that this race is and we're definitely one of the 25."

Do you feel like there are a lot of new things to digest this weekend with new rules and a new track surface? "It is what it is, but for them to reopen Daytona testing and give us three days down here, which I thought was way too much time. I left here really happy that we had three days and happy that we had all that track time to get used to the track and used to the new rules and used to the team and used to the new Toyota car. There's so many little things that I felt like those three days and then we've done a little more testing with short track stuff -- has really helped so I feel like going into tomorrow afternoon's practices is like we've already been there. I feel good about it."

-source: toyota motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick , Richard Petty , Kasey Kahne , Brian Vickers
Teams Red Bull Racing , Hendrick Motorsports , Richard Petty Motorsports , Toyota Racing